Saturday, March 26, 2011
The current show of Karen Kilimnik's work at 303 Gallery includes a reconstruction of the installation The Hellfire Club episode of the Avengers, along with some photos of a girl posing a l'Emma Peel, and paintings of more "traditional" subject matter - dogs, landscape, portraits in heroic style (I can hear my Aunt Lucille imitating the movies here, pronouncing it "veddy English"), which relate in a kind of thrift store Anglophilia all around.
I find myself able to relate to it, both in terms of it as an art practice, as well as something (maybe not even art per se) which interfaces with media, with pop culture, which casts the experience as a kind of internalized subjectivity from which there is no discernible awakening. It's like a dream, the nature of which cannot be easily determined. It can be both gorgeous & terrifying. It's as if one's ego is nothing, supplanted by floating images from elsewhere, which are eminently desirable, yet it's awful too, sometimes.
There's a lot of art which deals with media images directly, with celebrity as a kind of mirror of whatever. & I get a sense that there really isn't much irony or depth in some of the work, or that there is meant to be (such as Elizabeth Peyton or Richard Phillips), & I'm not intending to suggest that there has to be. It doesn't mean much to me, but these images have had at least a contemporary resonance, for some. They show in galleries (what does that mean?). What I am intrigued with in the work of Karen Kilimnik, continually, is its morbid, romantic obsessiveness, its attachment to fantasies both grand & cheap. The work has a kind of entropy in its attachments, it is abject, it is kind of falling apart - & as such it resonates with a psychic landscape laid out like copy in a fashion magazine. The work picks up on the invasiveness of media, its aggressions.
But I am missing something here too: a figure like Emma Peel, especially in The Hellfire Club episode, is also a very empowering figure. She's tough, hot & self-possessed. We should all take some lessons from her, this fictional sylph. The photos of the girl posing with images of Emma Peel/Diana Rigg pick up on this, in a very direct way. The photos are wonderfully not-fine. They are simple; if they were in an envelope from a one-hour lab they would seem like someone's ordinary caprice, a scenario of "this is me, like the picture." The "amateur" can be theorized as a hapless consumer, as an absolute in passivity, however it could be seen as a much more complicated interchange. There's a murky deliriousness in the contemplation of these materials. There are intimations of violence - violence in cheap toys & decorations, in tinsel & gilt, in dupey Xeroxes, in not-so-secret yearnings for a world much richer than our own.
Artists often fixate on particular found material (imagery, objects, quotes, fragments of text, etc.) that reveals no direct connection to their practice but that possesses for them an enigmatic, resonant meaning. This material may serve as a beacon for their practice, suggesting an unrealized and indeterminate potential for future work. Perhaps this material is the uncanny of artistic practice.
For this exhibition we collect such material from over a hundred and fifty artists, each invited to submit a single-page digital file to be printed on an 8×10-inch sheet. This small archive will be handed over to three curatorial collectives, each of whom will mount a treatment and exhibition in the diminutive (10-foot by 10-foot) Curatorial Research Lab at Winkleman Gallery. Despite the collection's necessarily small scale, we hope for a different order of insight than can be derived from primary artistic production. What if, for a moment, we treat such secondary material as primary? We are curious to see what tentative and comparative understandings can be drawn regarding a collective sensibility of the moment. Could organizations of this archive serve as signs on the road toward something beyond its constituent parts?
Workroom G is Michael Ashkin, Leslie Brack, and Joshua Geldzahler
Gogue Projects is Matt Freedman & Jude Tallichet
Camel Collective is www.camelcollective.org
Cathouse FUNeral is David Dixon, Karen Miller, Pete Moran
David Adamo, Alyson Aliano, Greg Allen, Meredith Allen, Robert Andrade, Mirene Arsanios, Michael Ashkin, David Atkin, Nancy Baker, Conrad Bakker, Michael Ballou, Sarah Bedford, David Benforado, Annie Berman, Eric Ross Bernstein, Roberto Bertoia, Mary Walling Blackburn, Lee Boroson, Leslie Brack, David Brody, Monica Burczyk, Pam Butler, Sharon Butler, Holly Cahill, Zachary Cahill, Tiffany Calvert, Francis Cape, Zhiwan Cheung, Piotr Chizinski, Jennifer Coates, Elisabeth Condon, Anne Connell, Diana Cooper, Daniel Cosentino, Amie Cunat, Elizabeth Dadi, Iftikhar Dadi, Jennifer Dalton, Donna Dennis, David Dixon, Ben Draper, eteam, Julie Evans, Anna Faroqhi, Anoka Faruqee, Renate Ferro, Paul Festa, Matt Freedman, Carolyn Funk, Lee Gainer, Joshua Geldzahler, Benj Gerdes, Lindsey Glover, DeWitt Godfrey, Maximilian Goldfarb, Edward M. Gomez, Anthony Graves, Lisa Hamilton, Shadi Harouni, David Hartt, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Jennifer Hayashida, Eric Heist, Amy Helfand, Alika Herreshoff, Clara Hess, Bob Hewitt, Susan Homer, Bettina Hubby, David Humphrey, Gabriela Jimenez, Christopher Lowry Johnson, Ron Jude, Martine Kaczynski, Efrat Kedem, Christine Kelly, Daren Kendall, Baseera Khan, Elke Krasny, Larry Krone, Lasse Lau, Jill Lear, Ronna Lebo, Diana Seo Hyung Lee, Karen Leo, Jason Livingston, David Lukowski, Pauline M'barek, Rose Marcus, Justin Martin, Mark Masyga, Graham McDougal, Todd McGrain, Doug McLean, Vincent Meessen, Danielle Mericle, Elisabeth Meyer, Andrea Minicozzi, John Monti, Pete Moran, Ray Mortenson, Erik Moskowitz & Amanda Trager, Carrie Moyer, Nicholas Muellner, Chris Nau, Yamini Nayar, Gregor Neuerer, Jennifer Nichols, Meredith Nickie, Marty Ohlin, Chris Oliver, Craig Olson, Ruth Oppenheim, Maria Park, Ahndraya Parlato, Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen, Liza Phillips, Anna Pinkus, Maggie Prendergast, Johannes Paul Raether, Paul Rajakovics and Barbara Holub, Cuba Ray, Dylan Reid, Thomas Rentmeister, Noah Robbins, Christopher Robinson, Kay Rosen, Douglas Ross, Benjamin Rubloff, Kathleen Rugh, Faride Sakhaeifar, Rachel Salamone, David Scher, Mira Schor, Peter Scott, Dennis Sears, Daniel Seiple, Rachel Selekman, James Sheehan, Buzz Spector, Suzy Spence, Liz Sweibel, Stan Taft, Jude Tallichet, Nick Tobier, Nathan Townes-Anderson, Jeanne Tremel, Lauren Valchuis, Chris Werner, Leslie Wilkes, Sammy Jean Wilson, Karen Yasinsky, Bernard Yenelouis